Never in its history has so much cultural and historic diversity been present in North America. The Catholic Church has a serious problem with this diversity. The difficulties include gender (including sexual orientation and women), cultural identity (African, Asian, Latin American, Indigenous) as well as the diversity inherent in human relationships with the earth (air, water, land) as well as its many living creatures). The difficulty derives not so much from its religious sources as from the way in which the Catholic Church has absorbed many of the historical biases of its cultural setting derived from Europe especially including its implication in the whole process of colonization. The emphasis on monotheism to the exclusion of other deities also plays a role
Many theologians are working on these questions following the lead of major thinkers who have analyzed our collective history from the point of view of various disciplines (sociology, anthropology, psychology) in Europe, Africa, Asia and Latin America. We can learn from them.
Far be it from me to attempt to unravel, especially here in an informal blog, the complicated ways in which the Church perpetuates its barriers to full recognition and appreciation of diversity within its midst and around it. Suffice it to say that a broad descriptive study is needed followed by a thorough deconstruction of the resulting mechanisms and a call for action to reconstruct our religious tradition in ways that go beyond the current impasse.
At the very least, it needs to be said that the underlying foundations for the problems with diversity in the Catholic Church are multi-layered. These include its hierarchical structure and the allocation of privilege and power and its omnipresent patriarchy. Some have suggested that clerical privilege has formed a culture of sociopathy. At work in this clerical culture is an institutional mentality that favours the personal interests of those who wield power and that separates them from the world of those they are called to serve in such a way that it is difficult for them to understand the needs of others. It must also be said that there is an underlying racism inherent in an uncritical reading of the scriptures and fostered by a culture of superiority rooted ultimately in strands of Judaism and also the understanding of citizenship in the Roman Empire. These roots were exacerbated by European attitudes beginning in the 16th century during contact with Africa and the New World of “America.”
However, beyond searching for the sources of the Church’s difficulty with diversity, we need also to consider the foundations for welcoming diversity. There is the question of welcoming of unmarried couples, gay marriages, divorced couples and women in ministry. As well we need to reconsider the inculturations of faith among Indigenous peoples in Africa, in North and also South America. There is a particular urgency with regard to the reception of other religious traditions. Are we willing to admit that God has been at work in Islamic, Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist and Indigenous traditions ( to name a few) and that God works through those traditions to advance the fullness of God’s reign in the world? I would argue that an examination of those Indigenous tradition embracing a multiplicity of deities provides an interesting template for examining the dangers of the kind of monotheism proposed by the “Religions of the Book” (Jewish, Christian and Islam).
Already scholars have made several approaches in this reflection . Some have proposed to examine the communalities in belief or moral values. There is also the approach that considers those social concerns on which we can collaborate through interreligious coalitions much as we have done for several decades in ecumenical work. However, I would like to suggest that the foundational work needs to be done from an understanding of who we are as humans. Unfortunately, modern capitalist culture has handed over to us a view of the human as an atomized consumer. This goes against the grain of practically all traditional cultures, including those of Western Europe until fairly recently. Along with many eminent thinkers I would like to suggest that community is a basic starting point for understanding being human and further that this relationship in community is a fundamental starting point for understanding diversity in inter-religious and social dialogue. Moreover, I would like to suggest that Bernard Lonergan’s insistence on the capacity of humans to engage in an endless search for meaning and worth reveals an openness to the transcendent that is at the very heart of being human. If this is so then the great spiritual and religious traditions of the world find a profound common ground in these dimensions of being human.
 See the reflection of Elochukuw Kuzukum, “Multiplicity of Deities in Indigenous Religions of West Africa,” Religion, Human Dignity and Liberation, edited by Gerald M. Boodoo, World Forum on Theology and Liberation, 2016 (Oiso Editora). The reflection of Marcelo Barros, “The World Social forum: A Secular Mysticism and Inter-religious Dialogue” in the same volume is also helpful.
 See A. W. Richard Sipe. Two excerpts from his book “Sexual Abuse in the Church, Plante & McChesney, Eds. 2011 were reprinted in the Island Catholic News (Victoria, B.C.) 2016 (Summer and Autumn edition).